Friday, March 18, 2011


I have been working on writing a home-working policy. Given that I work from home it has been a bit of an eye-opener. I guess that there are things that we do in our non-work life that may not be too healthy for us - like sitting at the computer for hours on end. If we do this in our personal lives then that's OK. But if we do it when we are working we need to follow health and safety guidelines and good practice. I am not one who decries such things - having, many years ago, worked in the coal industry and after that in health and social care I am very aware of the life-changing events that can happen through carelessness and the placing of profit or service objectives over personal cost.

Reading through health and safety guidelines has made me question what I do and the need to take my health and safety a little more seriously. I am not sure how many of our ministers work from home and I cannot find anything in the Help is at Hand publication about any kind of policy to cover this. I will be emailing the GA to ask if there is anything.

So what are the key features that we need to be looking at? Here are a few that I think are important.
  • Health and safety in particular with regard to VDUs (computer and laptop screens) & eye-tests, work-station safety, the comfort and support of the work chair, taking sufficient breaks, repetitive strain injury, stress and isolation;
  • Skills and support re new technology - working remotely means working with computers and mobile phones - how do we support our ministers in using this technology and what advice are they given when things change? Smart-phones have certainly revolutionised the way that many people communicate.
  • Support - in all its guises. Who does the checks to see that the workplace is OK and meets health and safety guidelines? Who is there if someone feels stressed? How do we ensure that working time directives are followed?
  • Understanding tax law with regard to travel expenses e.g. understanding about the designation of the permanent place of work (there can be more than one) and general office expenses.
  • Understanding legal implications of home-working.
  • Security of the person, equipment and data.
  • Monitoring activity and outcomes.
It seems that there is a lot here to think about. Perhaps some congregations and communities have done some of this thinking - it would be interesting to find out.

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